Lemon Cupcakes with Bitters, Sorrel, and Toasted Meringue25

Posted by in Citrus, Drink-Inspired, Experimental Recipe, Herbs & Flowers (Sunday January 6, 2008 at 3:59 pm)

Lemon Cupcakes with Bitters, Sorrel, and Toasted Meringue

January and citrus are a natural pair when it comes to me and cupcakes. As is typical, I ate too much chocolate and too many sweets over the holidays and really had to dig deep to find the motivation to even think of baking. But dig deep I did… Well, actually, I perused the latest issue of Imbibe (I will admit I have a recipe and photo featured in an article about cooking with tea) and stumbled on many a drink recipe that provided just the inspiration I needed.

I settled quickly on bitters as a way to counteract my overindulgence in sweets. I love bitters. Likely because I love(d) to drink Manhattans. This combination came from a couple different drink recipes (both by Lance J. Mayhew of Meriwether’s in Portland, Oregon). The bitterness and tartness of bitters and lemon appealed to my post-holiday’s sensibilities. I decided on a lemon chiffon cake to keep it light and meringue for the same reason. The end result is a pillow of sweet/bitter/tartness that is quite sophisticated (especially for a cupcake). This recipe likely won’t be for everyone and I will be interested to see how they go over at work tomorrow. I was pleased with the experience though.

Lemon Cupcakes
~20 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1-1/2 cups flour (cake if you have it, otherwise all-purpose)
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup grape seed oil or vegetable oil
4 egg yolks (approximately 3 ounces)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract, all natural
grated rind from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon bitters
5 egg whites (approximately 5 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar

1. Sift flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. In a medium bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon extract, lemon rind, and bitters. Stir to combine.
3. On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until incorporated.
4. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.
5. Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
6. Scoop a cupful of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This should lighten up the batter.
7. Transfer the batter to the egg whites and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white.
8. Scoop into cupcake cups about 2/3s full and bake at 350 F for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

batter & egg whites
step 6

lemon cupcakes with bitters
baked cupcakes

Sorrel Simple Syrup

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon chopped Sorrel

1. Add sugar and water to a small saucepan set over medium high heat.
2. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until fairly thick, about 2 minutes
3. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in Sorrel and set aside to cool.

Sorrel Meringue Frosting

1/2 cup sugar
3 egg whites
Sorrel simple syrup
Splash of Bitters

1. Whisk the egg whites and sugar over a water bath in the standing mixer bowl until it reaches a temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This only takes only a few of minutes.
2. Transfer to standing mixer and whisk using whisk attachment at high speed until soft peaks form.
3. With the mixer on medium speed, drizzle sorrel syrup into the mixer. Splash in a bit of bitters. Beat on high until stiff peaks form.

bitters
bitters

Assemble
1. Pipe meringue frosting.
2. Toast with a culinary or blow torch.

piping meringue

Doughnuts and Coffee Cupcakes44

Posted by in Advanced Techniques, Coffee & Liqueurs, Drink-Inspired, Step-by-Step Photos (Friday September 7, 2007 at 3:17 pm)

Doughnuts and Coffee Cupcakes

Topping a baked good with fried one is indeed excessive. But I needed an excuse to make doughnuts, so here goes.

Firstly, I must take a moment to appreciate the doughnut. Doughnuts should be an occasional treat. They have little redeeming value other than tasting great and are fried! But boy do freshly fried doughnuts taste so very, very good. I have vowed that if I am to eat a doughnut it will only be one a fried by my own hands.

I used the recipe from Richard Bertinet’s Dough: Simple Contemporary Bread.He has a unique kneading method which he demonstrates clearly in the included DVD. I am providing the mixer version of the instructions as my words will be inadequate to describe his method. I made one slight change from his recipe (the frying temperature) and recommend that you plan on eating them all – with friends – the day, the moment even, they are fried.

homemade mini doughnuts

Now for the cupcakes – they tasted like a latte – sweet and moist with a milky coffee flavor. I enjoyed the end result like it was two desserts. I dipped the doughnut in some of the whipped cream and ate that, then had the cupcake separately. Both were tasty, but I must admit that the doughnut did out shine the cupcake. Maybe it was the novelty.

Coffee Cupcakes
19 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dark roast coffee grounds
1/2 cup strong brewed, dark roast coffee
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and coffee grounds in a bowl.
5. Measure out coffee and milk together.
6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
7. Add about one third the coffee/milk mixture and beat until combined.
8. Repeat above, alternating flour and coffee and ending with the flour mixture.
9. Scoop into cupcake papers about two-thirds to three-quarters full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes. Note that these cupcakes will shrink slightly when they cool).
10. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Tip: Be careful when adding the coffee/milk mixture to the batter. If you add it too quickly the mixture will look curdled. Add small amounts and beat well to incorporate.

Whipped Cream

3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Whisk cream on high speed until soft peaks form.
2. Add sugar (more or less depending on your taste) and whip until thick.

Doughnuts

9 ounces whole milk
1/4 ounce envelope active dry yeast
17-1/2 ounces white bread flour (not all-purpose)
3 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 ounces superfine sugar
2 teaspoons fine-grain salt
2 large eggs
2 cups peanut oil
superfine sugar for dusting

1. Warm milk over low heat until it is ay body temperature. It should feel neither warm nor cold when you touch it.
2. Measure the flour into your mixer’s bowl. Rub in the yeast with your fingertips until it disappears in the flour.
3. Rub in the butter until its a sandy texture. Rub in the sugar and salt.
4. Using the dough hook attachment, turn the mixer onto the lowest speed. Add the eggs and milk. Mix for 2 minutes.
5. Turn up to medium speed and mix for 6-7 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
6. Gently remove the dough from the bowl with the help of a plastic bowl scraperonto a lightly floured surface. Form into a ball. Place into a lightly floured bowl and cover with a lint-free towel and set in draft-free spot to rise for 1 hour.
7. Gently remove the dough from the bowl with the help of a plastic bowl scraper onto a lightly floured surface. Cut into two equal portions with your scraper. Gently roll out to about 1/2 inch thick, turning and using flour only as needed.
8. Cut out doughnuts and their holes using a circular cutter and a large pastry tip, respectively.
9. Set on a lightly oiled and floured baking pan with sufficient space between each. Cover with a lint-free towel and set in draft-free spot to double in size or for 45 minutes.
10. Heat the peanut oil in a high-sided, 8″ diameter pan to 350 degrees. Using a slotted spoon gently add about 5 doughnuts to the oil. Allow them to fry on one side until golden, about 45 seconds. Flip and repeat on the other side. Remove doughnuts onto a sheet pan covered in paper towels to drain. Continue in the same fashion with remaining doughnuts.
11. Roll drained doughnuts in the sugar. Eat.

Note: I got about 24 mini doughnuts and doughnut holes plus a small loaf of bread out of this recipe. I took the scraps from cutting, quickly kneaded them together and shaped into a loaf. I baked the loaf at 425 degrees for 11 minutes until golden on top. Tasty!

weighing out ingredients
weighing out ingredients

cutting out doughnut holes
cutting out doughnut holes

doughnuts and doughnut holes ready to rise
ready to rise

Assembly
1. Top cooled cupcakes with a dollop of whipped cream.
2. Top frosted cupcake with a doughnut.

Thai Tea Cupcakes39

thai tea cupcake

I really, really want a solid Thai Tea cupcake recipe. I have been playing around with just about every product I could get my hands on and trying a variety of recipes and approaches. Getting the Thai tea flavor in the baked good was just not working. While the cake tasted fine… in most cases ended up tasting like corn and not Thai tea.

I finally decided to skip the flavor in the cake and focus it in the filling and frosting. I also used yet another new product and this one is my favorite so far. I made Thai Ice Tea per the directions and the result is most definitely whatever I am being served in San Francisco Thai restaurants… the Thai Tea flavor I am accustomed to and love.

These cupcakes tasted luscious – no funky after tastes, no cloying sweetness. The cake is the not-too-sweet balance to the creamy sweetness of the filling and frosting. We tried these soon after assembly and they just sort of burst into a creamy mass. I think with some time in the refrigerator the flavors will deepen, the filling will become one with the cake, and the experience should be equally as good, perhaps a little better, and definitely a bit neater.

I don’t know if this is the end of my search, but I am definitely pleased with what transpired today.

Cupcakes
15 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large egg whites

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
4. Measure out vanilla and milk together.
5. Add about a third of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
6. Add about one half the milk mixture and beat until combined.
7. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture. Transfer to a bowl. Clean mixer bowl well and dry thoroughly.
8. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form.
9. Mix in about a half cup of egg whites in to the batter, then fold the batter into the egg whites, gently until all egg whites streaks are gone.
10. Scoop into cupcake papers about two thirds full.
11. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

mise en place
mise en place

batter
batter

Thai Tea Creamy Filling

3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup Thai Tea syrup
4 large egg yolks

1. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix sugar, flour, and salt together and set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, bring milk and Thai Tea syrup to simmer over medium-low heat.
4. Pour about a half cup of the milk over the dry mixture and mix to combine.
5. Transfer back into the pan and continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. About 5 minutes.
6. Slowly add a small amount of the hot mixture to the eggs and mix to combine. Transfer back into the pan and continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
7. Transfer to a bowl, let cool for 10 minutes. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool.

Note: You will have extra filling. I decided against splitting the recipe in half as it uses the 4 egg yolks for the 4 whites in the cake recipe. If you don’t want extra, try cutting the recipe in half.

thai tea syrup
thai tea syrup

Thai Tea Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 8-ounce package Phili cream cheese
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Thai Tea syrup
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1. Bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment.
3. Beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy.
4. Add half of the sugar and 1/4 cup of Thai tea syrup. Beat until combined.
5. Gradually add remaining sugar (more if you have to) until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like. Add more syrup to get to the flavor you want. I added 2 more tablespoons.

the cone
the cone

thai tea cream filling
thai tea cream filling

tops back on
replaced top

Assemble
1. Using a small pairing knife, cut off the top of the cupcake in the shape of a cone. Flip the top over and cut off the cone.
2. Fill the cavity with a teaspoon of cream filling.
3. Replace the top of the cone.
4. Frost then sprinkle with crushed Thai tea leaves.

thai tea cupcake and thai iced tea

Vietnamese Coffee Cupcakes41

Posted by chockylit in Coffee & Liqueurs, Drink-Inspired, Step-by-Step Photos, Vietnamese-Inspired (Saturday May 6, 2006 at 11:38 pm)

I have been thinking about making a Vietnamese coffee cupcake for a while – really since way back, when I worked on the Thai iced tea cupcake.

When it comes to coffee flavored cakes, what one typically finds are mocha type concoctions (coffee and chocolate) or tiramisu type desserts (sponge or lady fingers doused in coffee). I haven’t found many examples of coffee-flavored cake batter outside of these two options. In lieu of an existing recipe, my approach would be simple – substitute strong brewed coffee for the liquid in a basic cake batter.

And that got me wondering… what cake batter? If you’ve ever taken any baking classes or read any professional baking books, you know that there are basic methods of preparing cakes including the sponge method, creaming method, two-stage method and a bunch of others. My favorite method is the creaming method which is used for many American-style baked goods. You cream the butter and sugar, add eggs, then alternate dry and wet ingredients. The result is a heavy mixture and relatively dense cake. The two stage method involves separating the eggs, following the same basic steps as with the creaming (with the exception that only egg yolks are added), then whipping egg whites to soft peaks and folding in to the batter. The result is something somewhat lighter. The classic sponge method requires heating and mixing the eggs and sugar over a water bath until it is light and fluffy. Then folding in dry ingredients and sometimes melted butter. Which of these (or any of the other) methods will translate to the dense, rich, moist, coffee flavored cake base I was looking for? I decided that the basic creaming method would result in a batter that had the bones to support the rich coffee flavor.

The resulting cake was great – great texture and moistness, but even better, a super intense, coffee flavor – exactly what I was looking for. I made a sweetened condensed milk pudding to fill the cupcakes and decided to top them with lightly sweetened whipped cream. I haven’t tasted the end product (just all the components), so I will need to report on that tomorrow.

VN Coffee Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup strong brewed Vietnamese coffee
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon coffee grounds

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
5. Measure out coffee and milk together.
6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
7. Add about one third the coffee/milk mixture and beat until combined.
8. Repeat above, alternating flour and coffee and ending with the flour mixture.
9. Fold in the teaspoon of coffee grounds.
10. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to three-quarters full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes. Note that these cupcakes will shrink slightly when they cool).
11. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Tip: Be careful when adding the coffee/milk mixture to the batter. If you add it too quickly the mixture will look curdled. Add small amounts and beat well to incorporate.


cupcake ready for baking


baked cupcake

Sweetened Condensed Milk Pudding

2 teaspoons gelatin
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1. Sprinkle the gelatin over a 1/4 cup of water and let sit for 5 minutes.
2. In a small pan over medium heat, heat the sweetened condensed milk until warm.
3. Add the gelatin and stir over heat until the gelatin melts.
4. Transfer mixture to a bowl set over a pan of ice water. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens. It will get very thick and might clump if you stop stirring.


stirring over ice bath

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Whisk cream on high speed until soft peaks form.
2. Add sugar (more or less depending on your taste) and whip until thick.


cupcakes ready for filling

Assemble
1. Using a small pairing knife, cut off the top of the cupcake in the shape of a cone. Flip the top over and cut off the cone.
2. Fill the cavity with a teaspoon or so of sweetened condensed milk pudding.
3. Replace top.
4. Top with swirls or dollops of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
5. Dust with finely ground coffee.


assembly

Making Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese coffee is made with special grounds that contain coffee and chicory and using a special filter. It is brewed resting on a glass filled with an inch or so of sweetened condensed milk. The result is strong, rich, creamy, and sweet. I prefer mine iced. The melting ice lightens up the drink a bit.


get your filter ready


add grounds


replace filter


screw on tight for strong coffee


fill with water and wait!

Eggnog Cupcake with Bourbon Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting30

Posted by chockylit in Cheese, Coffee & Liqueurs, Drink-Inspired, Spices, Step-by-Step Photos (Sunday December 11, 2005 at 6:51 pm)

Being someone who grew up in the northeast, but who is now living in California, it’s hard for me to feel very festive about Christmas without the snow and proximity to family. I usually ignore the existence of the holiday then panic for my lack of presents when I arrive at Logan airport. So, here I am trying to force the festivities upon myself with an eggnog based recipe!

To be honest, I had my doubts about this recipe. I wasn’t sure how eggnog would translate and I understand that eggnog isn’t for everyone. But all in all, the cupcakes were good. They were definitely eggnogy, mostly due to the eggnog pastry cream, and pretty tasty. I like the frosting quite a bit, very buttery and not too sweet. So, if you are into eggnog, they should be worth a try. Warning: The frosting recipe makes just enough to lightly cover the cupcakes, which is what I wanted. So, if you want a lot double up on the recipe.

Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temp
3 eggs, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup eggnog
1/4 cup bourbon/dark rum (all of one or a mix)
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon each baking powder and soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in eggs until blended.
3. Mix together eggnog, bourbon, and vanilla.
4. In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.
5. Alternate adding dry and wet ingredients into egg mixture mixing until combined.
6. Scoop into lined cupcake tins and bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes.

Eggnog Pastry Cream

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup eggnog
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Place flour in a heavy sauce pan, gradually whisk in eggnog until blended and smooth.
2. Add egg yolks, one at a time, whisking until just combined after each addition.
3. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, removing from the heat occasionally to avoid lumps, until thickened. If necessary strain through a metal sieve to remove lumps.
4. Remove from heat, stir in butter, rum and vanilla.
5. Transfer pastry cream to a bowl. Cover surface with plastic wrap, chill.

Bourbon Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoons butter
pinch salt
2 tablespoons bourbon
1-1/2 packages phili cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup butter, room temp
4 cups confectioner’s sugar

1. Heat brown sugar, cream, butter, salt over medium high heat whisking until sugar is dissolved. Cook for another minute.
2. Pour in bourbon and stir to combine. Take off heat and let cool.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until soft.
4. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat to combine.
5. Add three tablespoons of the bourbon caramel (you might have some left over) and beat to combine.

Assemble
1. Fill cooled cupcakes with pastry cream.
2. Top with frosting.
3. Decorate as you wish or drizzle some leftover bourbon caramel sauce.


scooping out holes for the filling


filling holes with pastry cream


prepping the pastry bag


piping the frosting


smoothing out the frosting

Recipe: The Thai Ice Tea Cupcake Experiment #000211

Posted by chockylit in Cheese, Drink-Inspired, Experimental Recipe, Spices, Thai-Inspired (Saturday June 11, 2005 at 10:01 am)

I tried the fresh brewed option this past week. I didn’t get the results I wanted (obvious Thai ice tea flavor), but the cupcakes were still really tasty. I had gotten some good suggestions for sweetened condensed milk frosting from my last experiment. I whipped something up and was happy with the results. I will use it for my Vietnamese Coffee Cupcake which I will work on next month.

The cake: Similar to the first test, the cake was tasty, but not very Thai ice tea flavored. One taster said it tasted like it had corn in it, which it didn’t.

The frosting: I had some frozen Thai ice tea cream cheese frosting left over from the last test. Tasters really liked it, so I decided to do a layer of that topped with the sweetened condensed milk buttercream frosting. I really liked the way the two layers looked and I think the flavors worked well together.

Here is the recipe:

Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup home brewed Thai ice tea
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites

1. soften butter in the mixer on high speed
2. drizzle the sugar mixture in with the butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes
3. sift flour, baking powder, and salt together
4. mix the Thai ice tea and vanilla together
5. add the flour mixture and tea mixture to the butter/sugar in 3 parts alternating between flour and tea and beating well after each addition
7. set aside incorporated mixture
8. in a clean mixer bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form
9. fold egg whites into cake batter until incorporated
10. scoop batter into the prepared cupcake pans
11. bake in the 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean

Sweetened Condensed Milk Buttercream Frosting
makes a small batch to top frosted cupcakes with

1 stick butter
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1. soften butter in the mixer on high speed
2. sift confectioner’s sugar
3. add sweetened condensed milk and about a half of the sugar to the butter and beat until combined
4. add remaining confectioner’s sugar in stages until desired consistency is achieved

Assembly
1. transfer a tablespoon of cream cheese frosting onto each cooled cupcake
2. smooth out with a small pallet knife
3. pipe a dollop of sweetened condensed milk buttercream on top of the cupcake

NOTE: I would be lost without this book, In The Sweet Kitchen: The Definitive Baker’s Companion. Its thorough substitution chart is invaluable when swapping out ingredients.

Thai Ice Tea Update2

Posted by chockylit in Drink-Inspired, Thai-Inspired (Sunday June 5, 2005 at 11:22 am)

I had an email conversation with someone very knowledgeable about Thai products. We discussed the pluses and minuses of the various Thai Ice Tea options. Basically, home brewed will result in the most authentic flavor and if brewed correctly (which takes about 2+ hours) will be very strong. So, I am brewing my own right now and hope to make some cupcakes with it today. In addition, I plan on doing a buttercream with sweetened condensed milk for the frosting.

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